Oct 5th 2015

Nudge-it: Understanding obesity (Coursera)

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Nudge-it is an multi-disciplinary European research project studying new ways of establishing and reinforcing healthy eating habits. Join us to learn about eating, appetite and obesity.

Obesity is a huge health, social and economic problem affecting millions of people globally. Currently, it’s a problem without a solution - dieting is difficult, drug therapies are poor, and surgical solutions are only offered to those suffering serious ill-health. In addition, there are many common misconceptions about appetite, diet and exercise, and about the best ways to treat or prevent obesity.

This course will be taught by partners in the EU-funded research project Nudge-it. This project brings together dozens of experts in neurobiology, psychology and behavioural economics from universities in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the US and New Zealand. The project's overall aim is to better understand decision-making in food choice and to contribute to improving public health policy.

In this course we will discuss the facts and misconceptions around obesity, and the gaps in the scientific knowledge. We’ll discuss key physiological and psychological concepts around the brain’s control of appetite and body weight, and reflect on the power of these systems - how they make weight gain easy and weight loss hard. We will describe new approaches to the treatment and prevention of obesity, and give you the opportunity to reflect on your own knowledge and assumptions around the causes of obesity.

Suggested Readings:
The Shape We're In: How Junk Food and Diets are Shortening Our Lives
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think